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Mandarin Chinese lessons in hot demand

Radio New Zealand – Jessie Chiang

“It is Chinese Language Week and younger people around New Zealand are taking up Mandarin in record numbers. It follows a nationwide trend of primary and secondary students learning the language, which reached record levels last year.” (more)

Real-life learning the key to mastering a second language

The South China Morning Post – John Cremer

“Noting such concerns, Lai Chun, an associate professor in the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) faculty of education, points out that most second language curricula and textbooks used in international schools now pay more attention to developing learners’ “communicative functions”. However, there is still room to improve the relevance of topics to students’ daily life and interests, which is an important factor in increasing overall motivation. “The essentials for reaching near-native levels of fluency are sufficient exposure to the language and opportunities to use it in authentic contexts,” Lai says.” (more)

The American grass-roots school movement immersing children in Mandarin

The South China Morning Post – Simone McCarthy

“Li was surprised when then the children greeted him in perfectly accented Mandarin. “It was a totally eye-opening experience to see these five and six-year-olds have a conversation with an adult in a different language that is so different from their native one,” said Li, who is now director of the Confucius Institute at Michigan State University. Li was witnessing the results of a grass-roots trend in American primary education: language immersion programmes in which children spend at least half of each school day taking their regular classes, like maths, science or physical education, entirely in Mandarin.” (more)

Why You Should Enroll Your Kids in Piano Lessons, According to Science

Time – Jamie Ducharme

“With 88 keys and hundreds of internal strings, a standard piano produces a slew of unique sounds and tones. And mastering that complex system doesn’t only result in beautiful music — a new study says it can also help kids build up their language skills. “There’s evidence that early exposure to piano practice enhances the processing of sounds that extend not only from music, but also into language,” says John Gabrieli, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the co-author of the paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” (more)

UK’s Mandarin Learners Head for Top of Class in Other Subjects

Women of China – Su Yilin

“Mandarin learning in British classrooms is enhancing the ability of students to perform well in other subjects, including English and mathematics, according to a new survey released on Friday. The report shows 89 percent of students studying Mandarin at schools taking part in the survey achieved GCSE Grade 5 or better in English. In comparison, among students at the same schools who were not learning Mandarin, only 72 percent earned GCSE Grade 5 or better in English. Similarly, 87 percent of students learning Mandarin achieved GCSE Grade 5 or above in mathematics, while only 61 percent made the grade among students not studying Mandarin.” (more)

Zhuyin sounds key to children learning Mandarin as a second language

The South China Morning Post – Anita Shum

“Parents often say their children don’t read enough, especially when they are learning Mandarin as a second language. Youngsters often find such bookwork too difficult beyond their mother tongues and their reading-level gap can widen to the point that some children might hold a “Harry Potter-level” book in one hand, and a “one sentence per page” Chinese book on the other – and still be unable to read all its characters independently.” (more)